The Chicago Syndicate: Salvatore Montanga
Showing posts with label Salvatore Montanga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salvatore Montanga. Show all posts

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mass Mafia Bust #ProjectClemenza

The RCMP is carrying out a series of arrests in the Montreal area in what the Mounties are calling the third and last phase of an investigation into the Mafia in Montreal that began several years ago.

Included among the people the RCMP arrested Wednesday is Liborio (Pancho) Cuntrera, 47, a man who police sources have described as a potential leader within what remain's of the Rizzuto organization.

Cuntrera is the son of Agostino Cuntrera, a member of the Rizzuto organization who was gunned down in St-Leonard in 2010 when the Mafia clan was under pressure from rivals. While the Rizzuto organization was under pressure to relinquish control of the mob in Montreal, the older Cuntrera remained loyal to the Rizzutos. Liborio Cuntrera also represents the second generation of a group of well known wealthy international drug smugglers known in many parts of the world as the Cuntrera-Caruana organization.

Cuntrera was not arrested on Wednesday because he is currently on vacation. According to sources familiar with the investigation, Cuntrera is currently in Italy, has been in contact with the RCMP and has agreed to turn himself in when he returns to Canada in a few days, one source said.

One man named as a target in the investigation is Martino Caputo, a 42-year-old man who is serving a 12-year prison term in Kingston for his role in a cocaine smuggling conspiracy to bring a tonne of the narcotic into Canada once a month. Caputo also faces charges in Ontario related to a murder carried out in that province back in 2012.

In February 2004, Crivello was sentenced to a three-year prison term for holding a person against their will and aggravated assault.

According to decisions made by the Parole Board of Canada, Crivello hired a group of men to collect $60,000 that he believed had been stolen from him. Three men were held against their will and beaten while Crivello watched and demanded to know what happened to his money. One of the victims suffered injuries that required surgery.

While he was before the parole board, in 2005, Crivello admitted that he had been involved in drug trafficking from the age of 17.

Another man who was arrested Wednesday, Frank Iaconetti, 48, has also done time in a federal penitentiary. In 1999, he pleaded guilty, in a U.S. District court in Massachusetts, to being part of a conspiracy to distribute cocaine. According to court documents filed in that case, on March 15, 1998, Iaconetti brought $250,000 in cash to undercover agents for what what supposed to be a down payment 100 kilograms of cocaine destined for Canada. When he was sentenced in 1999, a judge was told there was very little evidence that Iaconetti knew details about the actual drug transaction. At the time, Iaconetti said he agreed to deliver the money to deal with a serious addiction to gambling that caused him to ask that he be banned from the Montreal casino.

According to a statement issued by the RCMP Wednesday morning, the arrests are the third part of Project Clemenza, an investigation into the drug trafficking activities of various Mafia clans. Project Clemenza had to be put on hold because while it was underway the RCMP uncovered evidence related to the murder of Salvatore Montagna, a Mafia leader from New York who was one of the leaders in the attempt to wrestle power away from the Rizzuto organization about six years ago.

In a sign of how long Project Clemenza was delayed because of Montagna's murder, the charges filed at the Montreal courthouse against Liborio Cuntrera and Marco Pizzi, 46, of Montreal North, date back to 2011. Both men are alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to traffick in cocaine between Sept. 28, 2011 and Oct. 6, 2011.

An RCMP spokesperson told reporters that 15 people were targeted in Wednesday's operation and that the investigation probed drug smuggling and drug trafficking.

"The network imported cocaine through the United States and used its contacts in the commercial ground transport industry," the spokesperson said. "The investigation demonstrated that this (network) transported large quantities of cocaine. The American and Canadian authorities have seized more than 220 kilos of cocaine and placed their hands on (more than $2 million). The impact of this operation on organized crime is significant and will have an affect on drug smuggling activities in the Greater Montreal region."

Another of the men arrested Wednesday was Hansley Joseph, 36, a wel-known member of a Montreal street gang who was often seen interacting with Mafia-tied drug traffickers during Project Colisee, a major investigation into the Mafia that had a huge impact on the Rizzuto organization a decade ago. In 2007, Joseph received a two-year prison term for his role in a drug trafficking network that operated in northern Montreal.

The case brought against Joseph and about two dozen other men in 2005, was significant because it represented one of the first times in Canada that gangsterism charges were brought against street gang members.

According to a decision made in the case in 2007, Joseph was part of a group known as the "Dope Squad" and frequently supplied cocaine to a group known as the Pelletier St. gang that sold crack on Pelletier St., near the corner of Henri Bourassa Blvd.

Thanks to Paul Cherry.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire (Cosa Nostra News: The Cicale Files).

Dominick Cicale was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. From a young age he was closely associated with the Genovese crime family, considered the most powerful Mafia group in America. Fate intervened. In 1999 Cicale forged a tight alliance with Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, then an up-and-coming member of the Bronx faction of the Bonanno crime family. Under Basciano's tutelage, Dominick rode the fast track: he was inducted into the American Cosa Nostra and swiftly rose from soldier to capo, amassing great wealth and power. Cicale befriended and associated with numerous high-ranking figures within all of New York's Five Families as he plotted and schemed in a treacherous world where each day could be his last.

This installment views startling details surrounding the brutal gangland murder of Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia and its resulting impact on relations between the Bonanno family in New York and its Montreal -based "outpost" established by the Mafia Commission in 1931. The cast of characters further includes high-ranking Mafiosi such as Joseph Massino (The Last Don), Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagna, Vito Rizzuto, Vinny Gorgeous (a nickname never used in his presence) and Cicale himself.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Salvatore Montagna's Body Found in River North of Montreal, Reputed Boss of Bonanno Crime Family

The body of an alleged Mafia boss, who U.S. authorities said once led New York's notorious Bonanno crime family, was fished out from a river north of Montreal on Thursday.

Reports identified the body as Salvatore Montagna, although police wouldn't immediately confirm or deny the identity.

The FBI once called him the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family — prompting one of New York's tabloids to call him the "Bambino Boss" because of his rise to power in his mid-30s. Nicknamed "Sal The Iron Worker," he owned and operated a successful steel business in the U.S.

Montagna's death is the latest in a series of Mafia-related killings and disappearances over the last two years. He was considered a contender to take over the decimated Rizzuto family.

A provincial police spokesman said Thursday that a private citizen called after seeing a body along the shores of the L'Assomption River. The same person also reported that he heard gunshots, but Sgt. Benoit Richard said he couldn't confirm how the victim died. "When (police) arrived, they saw a man lying near the river, they took him out of the water and started doing CPR with the help of the emergency personnel," Richard said.

Richard said police will await the results of an autopsy, scheduled for Friday, to determine the cause of death.

Montagna was born in Montreal but raised in Sicily and, although he moved to the United States at 15, he never obtained U.S. citizenship.

The married father of three was deported to Canada from the United States in 2009 because of a conviction for refusing to testify before a grand jury on illegal gambling.

He pled guilty to the minor charge, but it made him ineligible to stay in the U.S. Montagna had no criminal record in Canada and re-entered without trouble.

His arrival in Montreal occurred just months before members of the Rizzuto family began being killed.

The FBI had called Montagna the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, an allegation his lawyer denied.

The Bonanno crime family is one of the five largest Mafia families in New York — one of the notorious criminal gangs that formed the original Commission, along with Al Capone and Lucky Luciano.

There had been speculation that Montagna had been part of the new Mafia leadership in Montreal and was trying to reorganize the leaderless group.

His death comes just two months after another man with Mafia ties, Raynald Desjardins, narrowly escaped death in a shooting in a suburb north of Montreal. Desjardins had close ties to Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of the Montreal Mafia who is currently imprisoned in the United States.

A rash of killings and disappearances in late 2009 and early 2010 decimated the operation and have robbed him of many of his closest family members. Rizzuto's father and son were gunned down, as were other friends, while his brother-in-law simply vanished.

Montagna became the latest name on the list.

Thanks to Yahoo

Friday, July 03, 2009

Mob Hit on Reputed Bonanno Crime Family Solider Anthony Seccafico?

A man identified by a law enforcement official as a soldier in the Bonanno crime family who was under federal investigation was shot to death early Thursday morning near a bus stop on Staten Island, the authorities said.

The man, Anthony Seccafico, was waiting for a bus near his town house on Ilyssa Way about 4:30 a.m. when an unknown number of attackers opened fire, law enforcement officials said.

Witnesses told the police that they heard seven shots and passers-by discovered Mr. Seccafico bleeding in the street about 100 feet from the bus stop, on Arthur Kill Road, the authorities said. Mr. Seccafico, 46, who was waiting for the X17 bus to take him to work in Manhattan, was shot several times and apparently tried to flee his attackers, investigators said. He was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, the police said.

On Thursday, detectives were trying to determine the motive behind the killing. A police official said it was possible that it was related to Mr. Seccafico’s criminal history, including a 1996 case in Coney Island in which he was charged with four counts of assault and illegal possession of a weapon.

The medical examiner’s office has scheduled an autopsy for Friday morning.

In November 2002, Mr. Seccafico was arrested with 19 others on charges of participating in a $2.5 million-a-year gambling ring as part of a Bonanno crew.

Mr. Seccafico pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, and received a three-month sentence. Also involved in that case was Salvatore Montagna, who had been elevated to the head of the Bonanno family and was recently deported.

A federal law enforcement official said Mr. Seccafico had been under federal investigation when he was killed, though the official would not describe the nature of the investigation. When Mr. Seccafico was arrested in 2002, he was in the mobster Patrick DeFilippo’s crew, the official said. Mr. DeFilippo, who lived in Manhattan, operated out of the Bronx, and Mr. Seccafico “spent a little time in the Bronx,” the official said. Mr. DeFilippo is serving 40 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy, gambling and loan sharking. Mr. Seccafico became a “made” member of the Bonanno crime family after 2003, the official said.

The official said that according to a list obtained by federal authorities, Mr. Seccafico was proposed for membership in the family by Mr. DeFilippo.

An investigator familiar with Mr. Seccafico said he had been a laborer and a member of Local 79 of the Construction and General Building Laborers’ Union. That investigator said Mr. Seccafico was “just a runner” for the 2002 gambling operation.

Before his arrest in connection with the organized crime ring, Mr. Seccafico had a criminal record dating to 1984, when he was arrested on drug and gun charges. He served less than a year for selling a controlled substance. After his 1996 arrest in Coney Island, Mr. Seccafico pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and served eight days in jail and three years’ probation.

In stark contrast to his life as a soldier for the New York mob, Mr. Seccafico was described by neighbors as a blue-collar family man who worked to support his wife and two young children. “They’re very, very nice people,” said Mona Gaber, a neighbor of the Seccafico family. Ms. Gaber said she would often see Mr. Seccafico come home still dirty from his job as a construction worker.

Thanks to Dominick Tao

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Youngest Boss of Any of the Five New York Mafia Families to Be Deported to Canada

When Salvatore Montagna, named as the boss of one of the notorious five Mafia families of New York City, was given a choice of where he wished to be deported -- Canada, where he was born, or Italy, where he is a citizen -- he quickly made plans for a return to Montreal.

That decision now leaves Canadian officials scrambling with what to do about a man they know little about. He returns to Canada free of any legal obligation and faces no charges.

Nicknamed "Sal the Ironworker" because of his trade in metal work, Mr. Montagna made headlines in New York when he was named as the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family at the improbably young age of 35. Mr. Montagna's youth led the tabloids to dub him the "bambino boss."

In the United States, officials are not shy about what they think Mr. Montagna has been up to. "He is a made member of the La Cosa Nostra, more specifically the Bonanno Italian organized crime family. Montagna is accused of making violent threats against a U. S. attorney from the Eastern District of New York," said Brandon A. Montgomery, spokesman for U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mr. Montagna's New York lawyer, George Stavropoulos, said the allegations are "absolutely, categorically denied."

"He is not involved in the Mafia, he is not the boss of the Bonanno crime family or the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. This is something that the FBI manufactured."

Mr. Stavropoulos said he was unaware of the threat allegation until told by the National Post. "If they had anything to prove what they are alleging they would be indicting him, not deporting him," he said.

Mr. Montagna was born on May 11, 1971, in Montreal, one of three sons born to Italian immigrants. When he was still an infant, the family moved to Sicily, and over the years shuttled back and forth. At the age of 15, Mr. Montagna moved with his family from Montreal to New York, driving through the Lacolle-Champlain border crossing.

Mr. Montagna followed in his father's footsteps, becoming an ironworker and starting his own company after high school. His company, Matrix Steel Co., of Brooklyn, has grown over 10 years into a multi-million dollar enterprise, according to Mr. Stavropoulos.

In New York, he married an American-born Italian woman and the couple has three daughters, all under the age of 10. His marriage also allowed him to become a legal permanent resident of the United States.

In 2001, just as he was thinking of applying for U. S. citizenship, he was subpoenaed to testify in a state gambling case. The prosecutor was unsatisfied with Mr. Montagna's testimony and charged him with criminal contempt.

On October 28, 2003, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation. "He plead as opposed to putting up a fight. He thought that was the easy way out," said Mr. Stavropoulos.

It was a decision he regrets. The conviction ended his citizenship plans and last week came back to haunt him.

In 2006, the New York Daily News named him as the acting boss. Several grand juries had been convened; colleagues and metal work competitors were subpoenaed to testify. As many as 30 federal cars were assigned to monitor him, Mr. Stavropoulos said.

No charges came.

Despite the tough talk from officials, the media attention and the investigations -- even at a time when the Bonanno organization was hard hit by senior members becoming police informants, including the long-time boss -- no indictment was filed against Mr. Montagna.

Instead, last week U. S. immigration officials scooped him up and placed him in detention.

Based on his conviction for contempt, deemed a civil violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, he faced an immigration hearing on Tuesday.

He agreed to be removed to Canada.

"He will remain in ICE custody until his actual departure from the United States to Canada," said Mr. Montgomery of ICE. "Montagna is relinquishing his permanent residency and will be inadmissible if he attempts to request a visa in Canada."

He will not be alone here when he arrives next week. While one brother remains in New York, Mr. Montagna has a brother in Montreal and his parents still frequent the city. "As soon as his children finish school, his wife fully intends to move to Canada to join him," said Mr. Stavropoulos.

"He feels confident coming to Canada. He loves Canada. He said he was happy to be coming to Canada." He will likely sell his home and business and start fresh if he cannot win a reprieve.

Montreal is a city that also has long ties to the Bonanno crime family.

Montreal's Mafia boss, Vito Rizzuto, is currently in a U. S. prison for a gangland murder on behalf of the Bonanno leadership; and several New York gangsters alleged to have associated with Mr. Montagna also have strong links to the city, including Patrick "Patty From the Bronx" DeFillipo and Baldassare "Baldo" Amato.

In 2006, the FBI secretly recorded a conversation between gangsters in which Michael Cassese said that Mr. Montagna is the family's acting boss, according to court documents. "There's nobody in between. That's it," the gangster said of Mr. Montagna's position.

The RCMP is aware of Mr. Montagna's impending trip, said Sergeant Marc LaPorte, but declined to comment on whether there will be any special attention paid to him.

Said Patrizia Giolti, spokeswoman for CBSA: "While I will not comment on the specifics of a case, I can tell you that any Canadian citizen has the right to enter Canada."

Mr. Stavropoulos said Canadians have nothing to fear. "He fully intends to lead a lawful life there and raise his young family."

Thanks to Adrian Humphreys

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

La Cosa No More?

In early 2004, mob veteran Vincent Basciano took over as head of the Bonanno crime family. The reign of the preening, pompadoured Mafioso known as Vinny Gorgeous lasted only slightly longer than a coloring dye job from his Bronx hair salon.

Within a year, the ex-beauty shop owner with the hair-trigger temper was behind bars betrayed by his predecessor, a stand-up guy now sitting down with the FBI.
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It was a huge blow to Basciano and the once-mighty Bonannos, and similar scenarios are playing out from coast to coast. The Mafia, memorably described as "bigger than U.S. Steel" by mob financier Meyer Lansky, is more of an illicit mom-and-pop operation in the new millennium.

The mob's frailties were evident in recent months in Chicago, where three senior-citizen mobsters were locked up for murders committed a generation ago; in Florida, where a 97-year-old Mafioso with a rap sheet dating to the days of Lucky Luciano was imprisoned for racketeering; and in New York, where 80-something boss Matty "The Horse" Ianniello pleaded to charges linked to the garbage industry and union corruption.

Things are so bad that mob scion John A. "Junior" Gotti chose to quit the mob while serving five years in prison rather than return to his spot atop the Gambino family.

At the mob's peak in the late 1950s, more than two dozen families operated nationwide. Disputes were settled by the Commission, a sort of gangland Supreme Court. Corporate change came in a spray of gunfire. This was the mob of "The Godfather" celebrated in pop culture.

Today, Mafia families in former strongholds like Cleveland, Los Angeles and Tampa are gone. La Cosa Nostra our thing, as its initiates called the mob is in serious decline everywhere but New York City. And even there, things aren't so great: Two of New York's five crime families are run in absentia by bosses behind bars.

Mob executions are also a blast from the past. The last boss whacked was the Gambinos' "Big Paul" Castellano in 1985. New York's last mob shooting war occurred in 1991. And in Chicago, home to the 1929 St. Valentine's Day massacre, the last hit linked to the "Outfit" went down in the mid-1990s.

The Mafia's ruling Commission has not met in years. Membership in key cities is dwindling, while the number of mob turncoats is soaring.

"You arrest 10 people," says one New York FBI agent, "and you have eight of them almost immediately knocking on your door: `OK, I wanna cut a deal.'"

The oath of omerta silence has become a joke. Ditto for the old world "Family" values honor, loyalty, integrity that served as cornerstones for an organization brought to America by Italian immigrants during the era of Prohibition. "It's been several generations since they left Sicily," says Dave Shafer, head of the FBI organized crime division in New York. "It's all about money."

Which doesn't mean the Mafia is dead. But organized crime experts say the Italian mob is seriously wounded: shot in the foot by its own loudmouth members, bloodied by scores of convictions, and crippled by a loss of veteran leaders and a dearth of capable replacements.

The Bonannos, along with New York's four other borgatas (or families), emerged from a bloody mob war that ended in 1931. The Mafia then became one of the nation's biggest growth industries, extending its reach into legitimate businesses like concrete and garbage carting and illegal pursuits like gambling and loan-sharking. The mob always operated in the black.

Things began to change in the mid-1980s, when the Mafia was caught in a crossfire of RICO, rats and recorded conversations. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act handed mob prosecutors an unprecedented tool, making even minor crimes eligible for stiff prison terms.

The 20-year sentences gave authorities new leverage, and mobsters who once served four-year terms without flinching were soon helping prosecutors.

"A good RICO is virtually impossible to defend," insists Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey, who drafted the law while serving as counsel to Sen. John McClellan in 1970. The results proved him right.

The first major RICO indictment came in 1985, with the heads of three New York families and five other top level Mafiosi eventually convicted. It took nearly two decades, but the heads of all five New York families were jailed simultaneously in 2003.

Authorities around the country were soon using Blakey's statute and informants against Italian organized crime in their cities.

In Philadelphia, where the mob was so widespread that Bruce Springsteen immortalized the 1981 killing of Philip "Chicken Man" Testa in his song "Atlantic City," one mob expert estimates the Mafia presence is down to about a dozen hardcore "made" men. Their number was once about 80.

The New England mob claims barely two dozen remaining made members about half the number involved 25 years ago. The Boston underboss awaits trial.

In Chicago, home of Al Capone, the head of the local FBI office believes fewer than 30 made men remain. That figure stood at more than 100 in 1990. The city's biggest mob trial in decades ended recently with the convictions of three old-timers for murders from the 1970s and '80s.

In Los Angeles, there's still a Mafia problem "La Eme," the Mexican Mafia. An aging leadership in the Italian mob, along with successful prosecutions, left most of the local "gangsters" hanging out on movie sets.

The Florida family dominated by Santos Trafficante, the powerful boss linked to assassination plots targeting President John F. Kennedy and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is gone. The beachfront Mafia of the 21st century is mostly transplanted New Yorkers, and money generated by the local rackets isn't kicked up the chain of command as in the past.

"You have guys running around doing their own thing," says Joe Cicini, supervisor of the FBI's South Florida mob investigations. "They don't have the work ethic or the discipline that the older generation had."

The decline of "Family values" is nothing new. Back in January 1990, a government bug caught no less an expert than Gambino boss John Gotti wondering if the next generation of mobsters was equal to their forebears. "Where are we gonna find them, these kind of guys?" Gotti asked. "I'm not being a pessimist. It's getting tougher, not easier!"

During the same conversation, Gotti questioned the resumes of a half-dozen candidates for made man: "I want guys that done more than killing."

Even harder, it would turn out, was finding guys who could keep their mouths shut.

"Mob informant" was once an oxymoron, but today the number of rats is enormous and growing with each indictment. And the mob's storied ability to exact retribution on informants is virtually nonexistent.

"There is no more secret society," says Matthew Heron, the FBI's Organized Crime Section Chief in Washington.

"In the past, you'd start out with the lowest level and try to work your way up," Heron continues. Now "it's like playing leapfrog. You go right over everybody else to the promised land."

Basciano, 48, the one-time owner of the "Hello Gorgeous" beauty parlor, faces an upcoming trial for plotting to kill a federal prosecutor. The case was brought after his old boss, "Big Joey" Massino, wore a wire into a jailhouse meeting where the alleged hit was discussed.

By the time Massino went public with his plea deal in June 2005, another 50 Bonanno associates had been convicted in three years. The number of colleagues who testified against them, going right up to Massino, was in double digits. Basciano now faces the rest of his life in prison.

The Bonanno family is now led by the inexperienced "Sal The Ironworker" Montagna, just 35 years old, according to the FBI. Montagna shares one trait with his family's founder: He, too, is a Sicilian immigrant.

The mob of the 21st century still makes money the old-fashioned way: gambling, loan-sharking, shakedowns. Three Genovese family associates were busted this month for extorting or robbing businessmen in New York and New Jersey, making off with $1 million.

There are other, more modern scams: The Gambino family collected $230 million in fraudulent credit card fees linked to pornographic Web sites. Another crooked plan grossed more than $420 million when calls made to "free" phone services triggered unauthorized monthly fees on victims' phone bills.

After getting busted, mobsters are quick to offer advice to the FBI about allocating the agency's investigative resources.

"I can't tell you how many times we've gone to arrest people, and the first thing a wiseguy says is, `You should be going after the terrorists," said Seamus McElearney, head of the FBI's Colombo crime family squad in New York. "They say it all the time: `You should be doing that.'

"And leaving them alone."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Championcatalog.com (Sara Lee)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Castellammare del Golfo Exports Mobsters to New York?

From the turquoise Mediterranean lapping its shore to the winding streets where old men soak up the sun on rickety chairs, a tourist would never know this one small town has produced many of New York's most notorious gangsters. Then again, the narrow-eyed suspicion with which outsiders are greeted might be a tipoff.

So it is fitting that New York's latest mob boss has roots in the same western Sicilian town that has exported some of the city's toughest mobsters for generations. His name is Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna, 35, the reputed acting head of the Bonanno crime family.

Like the legendary Joseph Bonanno, model for "The Godfather," Montagna was born in Castellammare del Golfo. His family immigrated first to Canada (he has cousins who run a gelato business there) and then to New York.

It was last week that the Daily News exclusively reported that law enforcement authorities determined the Bonanno family, its ranks decimated by prosecutions, has turned to the youthful Montagna to take the leadership reins.

A hardscrabble fishing village clinging to a mountain rising steeply out of the sea 40 miles west of Palermo, Castellammare has been a stronghold of the Mafia for centuries, its men known for their pride, clannishness and violence when crossed.

Now a town of 20,000, its name - translated as the Castle at the Sea - comes from a ruined but still forbidding Saracen fortress near the small marina. The marble mausoleums clustered in the town cemetery bear many family names that became famous in New York: Bonanno, Profaci and Galante chief among them.

Questions about the Montagna family are greeted with some hostility. There is one Montagna listed in town, but no one answered the phone and asking around in his neighborhood wasn't fruitful. "I know him, but he's dead," said one of the old men lounging over coffee at a cafe. "Sorry."

During Mussolini's brutal crackdown on the Mafia in the 1920s, scores of Castellammarese fled to America, many settling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The immigrants' ties to the land, each other and the Old World codes of honor gave rise to powerful, insular gangs that cornered the market on bootlegging, gambling and then-lucrative ice deliveries. Men from the town also went to Buffalo and Chicago, where they started their own mobs.

In the 1930s, New York was rocked by the Castellammarese War, which pitted immigrant mobsters from the town - led by Bonanno, Joseph Profaci and then-boss Salvatore Maranzano - against factions from Calabria and Naples, including Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Vito Genovese and Frank Costello. The bloody war ended when Maranzano set up an organizational structure for La Cosa Nostra and divided New York City into five families.

At 26, Bonanno was nearly a decade younger than Montagna when he came to head his own family. Then, as now, immigrants from Castellammare were prized soldiers.

BonannoA Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno, in his autobiography, "A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno," wrote of their discipline and the importance of ancient family ties. He told a family legend about his Uncle Peppe ordering a younger man to strip off his shirt and take an undeserved lashing with a whip. "It's one thing to say you're never going to talk against your friends, but it's quite another not to talk when someone is beating you. I wanted to see how well you took a beating," Bonanno recalled his uncle saying.

His affection for his birthplace was evident: He spoke of playing in the fortress as a child, the taste of fresh mullet caught in the gulf nearby and the smell of lemons on the wind. When he died in 2002 at the age of 97 in Arizona, his funeral cards bore the image of Santa Maria del Soccorso, the patron saint of Castellammare del Golfo.

Another Castellammarese, Joseph Barbara, hosted the notorious Appalachian Mafia Conference of 1957, which was raided by the cops and began the mob's long slow decline.

In the past decade, Italian authorities have made a great effort to crack down on gangsters, and Castellammare is now thriving, with new six-story blocks of condos going up on the outskirts of town and fewer poor laborers leaving in search of a better life. But the port city is still a major center of Mafia activity in western Sicily.

The crew filming "Ocean's 12" in nearby Scopello in 2004 were caught up in it when 23 people - including a local police commander - were busted after a year-long probe of a sprawling Castellammarese extortion racket that included surveillance of the film set. Producer Jerry Weintraub later hotly denied widespread Italian news reports that the film crew was being shaken down with threats of arson on the set and that film's stars - George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones - might have been in danger.

The national daily newspaper Corriere della Sera said the local Mafia is known for targeting moviemakers and has a lock on the hiring of extras.

While the ancient codes still hold sway, the gangsters are keeping up with the times and enforcement has gone high-tech. When producers of a recent feature wouldn't cooperate, thugs broke into the production offices and erased the moviemakers' hard drive's to make their point.

There have been other signs of modernity. Two of the highest ranking Mafiosi arrested in a big 2004 Castellammare bust were women - the wives of the town's top Mafia chieftains. Italian authorities said it would have been unheard of even a few years ago for women to get involved in protection rackets, but bragged that their prosecutions have been so successful that most of the men are now behind bars.

In New York, parallel crackdowns on the mob have put half the Bonanno family soldiers behind bars. So once again, the family has looked to the tough men and closed mouths of Castellammare del Golfo's crooked streets.

Thanks to Helen Kennedy

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bonanno's Name Bambino Godfather

Friends of ours: Bonanno Crime Family, Salvatore "Sal the Ironworker/Sal the Zip" Montanga, Joseph Massino, Baldassare "Baldo" Amato, Patrick "Patty from the Bronx" DeFilippo, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Vincent "the Chin" Gigante

The Bonanno crime family has tapped a man of steel to rebuild its crumbling empire, the Daily News has learned.

He's Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna, the newly minted boss of the Mafia family, according to law enforcement sources - and he's practically a bambino at only 35 years of age.

The Sicilian-born Montagna and his wife, Francesca, own a small ironworks company in Brooklyn, but they show no signs of living the high-life of a Mafia don. The couple and their three daughters live in a modest ranch house in working-class Elmont, L.I., not far from the Queens border.

"Putting someone that young and relatively unknown in charge indicates that they're desperately seeking to salvage the remnants of the family from the recent prosecutions and convictions," said Mark Feldman, former chief of organized crime for the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office.

Feldman said the move clearly "signals desperation" on the part of a mob family that has seen three bosses and acting dons bite the dust in three years. Most noteworthy was the conviction of longtime family boss Joseph Massino, who is now serving life in prison.

Last night, a teenage girl answered the door of Montagna's vinyl-sided home on Oakley Ave. and said the reputed crime kingpin was not at home. Two little sisters stood at her side. Outside, a small construction crew was wrapping up its day working on Montagna's brick driveway.

A short time later, Francesca Montagna drove up in a late-model Lexus SUV and turned angry when asked if her husband was the new head of the Bonanno family. "I don't know what you're talking about," said the dark- haired woman, dressed in a sweatsuit. "I have kids in here. It's not appropriate for you to be here."

Until now, Montagna has rarely appeared on the radar of the NYPD and the feds, and neighbors said they knew nothing about any reputed mob ties. Still, the Mafia talk didn't worry them. "Am I scared?" said one local. "Absolutely not. I come from Brooklyn. Believe me, when you live next to one of these people, there's nothing to be afraid of."

Another neighbor found the suggestion "ridiculous," but quickly added, "We'd be shocked and scared at the same time if that is true. Wow!"

The Montagnas run the family-owned Matrix Steel Co. on Bogart St. in Brooklyn. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the firm supplies structural material for builders and reported a modest $1.5 million in sales last year.

In 2003, Montagna pleaded guilty to criminal contempt charges and was sentenced to probation for refusing to answer questions before a Manhattan grand jury. He had been indicted a year earlier after a probe by the Manhattan district attorney's office as one of 20 wiseguys charged in a takedown of a Mafia crew allegedly involved in gambling, loansharking and weapons possession.

Whether the new Bonanno boss has any other arrests was unclear yesterday.

"He's well-liked by the rank and file," said an underworld source, adding that Montagna is also known as Sal the Zip, a reference to the name bestowed on members of the crime family's Sicilian wing.

Sources said Montagna was close to legendary Bonanno gangster Baldassare (Baldo) Amato, another immigrant from near Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily, and served in the crew of capo Patrick (Patty from the Bronx) DeFilippo. Those guys are largely history now, with Amato recently sentenced to life in prison and DeFilippo facing a retrial on murder charges.

Led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Andres, the feds have indicted and convicted more than 70 Bonanno gangsters since 2002, leaving behind about 75 shell-shocked members on the street. Sources said Montagna's promotion couldn't have happened without the blessing of Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano, who once operated Hello Gorgeous, a hair salon in the Bronx, and became the official boss of the crime family after Massino turned rat.

Thomas Reppetto, author of the just-published "Bringing Down The Mob: A War Against the American Mafia (Henry Holt)," said the new breed of boss pales in comparison to past godfathers like the late John Gotti or Vincent Gigante. "There may no longer be a boss in the sense that we understood the term, an all-powerful figure at the top, because naming an official boss provides the FBI with a clear target," Reppetto said.

Thanks to John Marzulli

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